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About the Friends of the Kingston Peninsula and our Efforts to Stop the Kingston Cliffs Subdivision

The Friends of the Kingston Peninsula was formed in January of 2009 in response to an article in KV Style January 16th stating that David Peacock, owner of Milestone Construction (previously Meridian Construction & Development Inc.) was planning on building a 100 lot "Kingston Cliffs" subdivision in Moss Glenn. 

The article ignited widespread opposition within the community.  Within days two Facebook groups were independently established opposing the development: "Say No to Kingston Cliffs Subdivision" and "Keep Suburbs off of Kingston"

The community held a public meeting regarding the proposed development on February 1, 2009.  Approximately 200 people attended the meeting even though it was Superbowl Sunday!  Opposition to the Kingston Cliffs development was almost unanimous.  See the photo from the event by scrolling down on the "News and Events"  page.  View photos of the professed environmentally friendly Kingston Cliffs subdivision.

Our Community's Concerns About the Kingston Cliffs Development

Environmental
Drinking Water
Water and Septic
Rising Property Taxes
Stress on Our Infrastructure
Unrealistic Expectations of New Residents
Economic Viability of the Development

Negative Financial Impact on Pre-Existing Businesses

Drinking Water

Our community is concerned about the potential impact of the development upon the water supplies of nearby homes.

In a review of Fundy Engineering's Comprehensive Water Supply Assessment (CWSA) dated August 9, 2010, the Department of Environment's hydrogeologist states the following:

The test results for the three wells tested indicated that the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines (CDWQG) were exceeded for iron, manganese, PH, lead, barium and turbidity .....  Lead and barium are assigned Maximum Acceptable Concentration under the CDWQG and pose a health risk.  This means that any exceedance must be properly dealt with to ensure safe potable water.

The e-mail went on to state that water quality data from desktop analysis indicates the potential for CDWQ exceedance for arsenic, which is a health parameter that would require water treatment in order for the water to be considered potable.

The e-mail also notes that the results of the pumping test and information from well logs in the area indicate that there should be adequate water quantity to support the development of 48 single family residences as proposed, however, we consider that recovery observation data after the pumping test stopped were not enough according to the guidelines to confirm the calculated long term safe yield for insurance of sustainability withdrawal.

The e-mail goes on to state that if development of this subdivision proceeds, potential homeowners should be made aware of the possibility of low yielding wells and the potential need for water treatment so they can consider the costs involved.

Here is the link to the full text of the e-mail sent by the hydrogeologist.

Information about Iron and Manganese

Elevated levels of iron and manganese can affect the flavour and color of water and the food that is cooked in it. Iron may also cause yellow to reddish-brown staining of laundry, porcelain, dishes, utensils and glassware. Manganese may cause similar problems, but results in brownish-black staining. These stains are difficult to remove with common cleaners.

Iron and manganese can build up in pipelines, pressure tanks, water heaters and water softeners - decreasing the available water pressure and increasing the cost of operating these appliances.

Iron or manganese bacteria can also cause problems in your household. While these bacteria pose no direct threat to health, they do produce a red-brown (iron) or black-brown (manganese) slime that can accumulate in toilet tanks, pipes or other appliances and clog your water system. Another unpleasant side-effect of the presence of iron/manganese bacteria is that they often create hydrogen sulfide as a by-product - giving water an unpleasant "rotten eggs" odor.

For more information about iron and manganese in well water, please see the Water Stewardship Information Series fact sheet provided by the provincial government in British Columbia and the Drop on Water Iron and Manganese fact sheet provided by the Nova Scotia provincial government.

Environmental Concerns

An environmentally sensitive design requires careful site design and planning by environmental design specialists.  The developer, David Peacock, of Milestone Construction and Evergreen Homesites has not built any environmentally sensitive residential developments that we are aware of.  Without careful environmental design, the very features being advertised by the developer could be lost.

Although the Kingston Cliffs development is being presented as an Eco-friendly riverfront community, in our opinion, it is far from environmentally friendly.  Just look at the picture of the road above.  It is the temporary access road that was built in the fall of 2009. It was built on an old logging road that was hardly noticeable at the time.  This temporary access road is fairly wide and you can see that it has already contributed to erosion.  Even simple barriers to prevent silt run-off were not put in place until more than five months after the road was put in. 

Environmental concerns include the following:

  • Topographical maps for this location indicate slopes of 15 to 45 degrees.  With slopes this steep, and a development of this magnitude, there is a risk of significant drainage and erosion problems, especially considering there will be a requirement for blasting and fill in order to build the roads and building sites for the development.

  • There is a concern regarding runoff of silt and sewage from the development into Puddington Lake Brook, which is a habitat for brook trout.

  • The proposed Kingston Cliffs development includes a 2+ hectare wetland.  Eight of the forty-eight lots on the proposed Kingston Cliffs site plan (as of March 2011) border on this wetland.  Even if these lots do not build within the 30 meter buffer for the wetland, a development of this size could affect the quality of the wetland.

  • The site of the proposed development is a habitat for the bald eagle, which is currently listed as a species at risk under regulation 96-26 of the Province of New Brunswick's Endangered Species Act.  What kind of impact would a development of this size have on the bald eagle habitat?

  • The Kingston Cliffs website promotes a private access road to a beach on the property as a key feature of the development. However, the inclines to get to that beach are very steep and would likely require blasting and/or rock hammering as well as trucking in plenty of fill to build the road. A road on inclines this steep could well result in considerable erosion, and runoff of silt into the Kennebecasis River during the construction phase as well as runoff from sanding and silting during the winter months. This runoff could have a detrimental impact on the Kennebecasis River's Riparian Zone, which is a breeding ground for many types of fish, including the endangered shortnose sturgeon. 

  • The original development was slated to be 100 lots on 127 acres.  Developments of 50 lots or 100 acres require an environmental impact assessment be completed prior to approval.  The Kingston Cliffs development was scaled back to 48 lots (just under the requirements for an environmental impact assessment).  Was the size of the development scaled back simply to avoid an environmental impact assessment?

  • Subdivisions far away from the city centre (such as the Kingston Cliffs development) are one of the least energy efficient types of development.  From an environmental perspective, this type of development significantly raises the carbon footprint.  There is a very strong concern that the Kingston Cliffs development will mark the beginning of the suburban sprawl from Quispamsis leaping the river to the Peninsula.

Septic Concerns

Water and septic concerns include the following:

Mound Septic Systems

  • The New Brunswick Department of Health has stated that mound septic systems must be used at the proposed Kingston Cliffs development. See the septic evaluation letter from the Department of Health.  Mound septic systems cost more than the more commonly used pipe and stone in-ground septic systems, often leave unsightly mounds left on your property, and are complex to build.  You must ensure that your builder takes special care and carefully follows all guidelines in building the system.  If it is not built properly by a builder with experience constructing mound septic systems, you run the risk of experiencing problems.  In the state of Wisconsin, in the mid-70s, given the experimental nature of the mound septic system at the time, they were only allowed on a test basis and each mound was registered and monitored under a University of Wisconsin study.  They were judged workable by the mid-80s, but it is now noted that some of the early mound systems are failing.  In Wisconsin, soil borings by licensed soil testers are now required so that the results of underlying soil perviousness cannot be faked as they were under the previous system of "soil percolation tests."  The province of New Brunswick does not have any such guidelines in place to protect potential home owners.  Most publications about mound septic systems recommend using water wisely and installing water saving devices in the home to avoid overloading the system.   You can find out more about mound septic systems at:

    http://www.inspectapedia.com/septic/altmound.htm
    http://www.laundry-alternative.com/mound_septic_system.htm
    http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/ID/ID-163.html,
    http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/0744.html
    http://www.swopnet.com/engr/Septic_Tanks/mound-systems-guide.shtml
    http://www.gnb.ca/0053/public_health/pdf/land/technical-guidelines-jan2010-e.pdf

  • A number of years ago, a salmon farm in Clifton Royal (not too far from the proposed development) drew down the water table by pumping hundreds of gallons a day to supply the salmon tanks.  This caused five nearby homes to lose their water supply and they had to drill much deeper wells at their own expense.  How do we know that the aquifer supplying the proposed subdivision has sufficient water to continue to supply the wells of pre-existing homes in the area and meet the needs of the 48 new homes planned for the subdivision?  Are the results of the three test wells drilled by Evergreen Homesites really sufficient to predict the ongoing needs for 48 new homes on what may be a fragile aquifer? 

  • No one can guarantee that there will not be an impact on the community’s water supply and quality.  The village of Penobsquis is a case in point.  The aquifer there is now completely dry and residents need to truck in their water supplies.  Why would we accept such a risk to a community’s water supply for a development where there will likely be little demand from purchasers given the history of other waterview/waterfront subdivisions on the Kingston Peninsula that have been unable to sell any properties other than the waterfront ones  Only four of the 48 proposed lots at Kingston Cliffs are waterfront and even they don’t have direct access to the water as they are located on a cliff face.
  • Significant modification of the terrain will be required, including blasting of rock and/or rock crushing, and cutting of trees to build the streets, driveways and home sites for the 48 home subdivision.  In addition, large amounts of fill will need to be trucked in to accommodate the mound septic systems.  In our opinion, this can hardly be considered eco-friendly development.

  • There is also significant concern from the community regarding drainage problems given the steepness of the slope and rockiness of the terrain for the proposed Kingston Cliffs subdivision, particularly in regards to septic seepage.  The wells of the homes at the bottom of the development, as well as the brook that runs along the bottom of the property could be at risk from septic leakage, especially given the long standing drainage issues experienced at the bottom of the "mountain" next to where the development is slated to take place.

Concerns about Rising Property Taxes

Home and property owners on the Kingston Peninsula are rightly concerned that a subdivision of this magnitude and size will significantly increase their property taxes.  A recent pamphlet distributed by Service New Brunswick titled Understanding Property Assessment states the following:

"Service New Brunswick employs a team of professional assessors who review all 450,000 properties in New Brunswick each year with the goal of reflecting 100% of the true market value of each property.  They look at a variety of factors including the sale prices of properties in your neighbourhood and any recent renovations made.  If local sale prices increased in the past year and/or if you've done renovations, then it's very likely that your home or property has increased in value.  As a result, your assessment will likely increase as well."

A large, upscale subdivision such as Kingston Cliffs will increase property assessments and increase taxes for all, especially for people with large tracts of waterfront and/or water view land.  It is not uncommon for families in rural areas whose land has been in the family for generations to be forced into selling their land because of high property taxes once suburban sprawl takes hold.

On the site plan presented on the Kingston Cliffs website, the roads in the subdivision are all public and the taxes of Kingston Peninsula residents will subsidize the maintenance of these roads.  However, the road to the beach is a private road and residents outside of the subdivision will not be permitted to use this road.  This is certainly not in keeping with the community spirit of the Kingston Peninsula.

Stress on Our Infrastructure

The ferries are a part of the lifestyle of living on the Peninsula, and this is not going to change anytime soon.  Even if the decision to build a bridge were made tomorrow, and this is highly unlikely, especially given the current fiscal situation in our province, it would probably be at least ten years before it was built. In the meantime, a development such as Kingston Cliffs would put even more pressure on our already stressed transportation infrastructure.  Imagine an extra 90 plus cars from the 48 lot development waiting in line at the ferry every morning and evening.

Unrealistic Expectations of New Residents

Many people move to the Kingston Peninsula because of its natural  beauty, peace, tranquility and rural sense of community.  However, living on the Kingston Peninsula is not for everyone.  We do not have the conveniences of a municipality and are very much a rural community.  In addition, our transportation system is complicated by our wonderful, yet sometimes inconvenient and frustrating ferry system.  Simply put, it is not convenient to live on the Peninsula.

New residents should know that:

  • While the commute into the city of  Saint John can be twenty-five to thirty minutes from the proposed Kingston Cliffs subdivision providing you drive right onto the ferry, there isn't any traffic on the arterial or MacKay highway, you hit all of the traffic lights right, and you drive above the speed limit for most of the trip, it is not uncommon to wait for 5,10, 15, 20 minutes or more at the ferry landing during peak travel times (early morning, after work, or Saturday mornings when the Kingston markets are operating from May to December) or when one of the ferries is down.  Most Peninsula residents carry a book in their cars to read during these occasions, but if you really need to get somewhere on time or you're used to getting somewhere quickly, waiting for the ferry can be a very frustrating experience.  You simply cannot count on making a quick trip to the city whenever you feel like it.  People have been known to move away from the Peninsula for this very reason.

  • We do have two well stocked convenience stores and a seasonal country market store as well as the two country markets, but we definitely do not have the convenience of fully stocked grocery stores or additional retail stores in our community.

  • We have garbage pick-up every two weeks, with compost pick-up on alternate weeks.

  • Our roads are secondary roads and are not ploughed as frequently as primary roads in the wintertime, so you need to add extra travel time and take extra care when driving during or after a snowstorm.  Sometimes the roads are not fully cleared for several days.

  • If you have children involved in a lot of activities, be prepared to spend a lot of time in your car driving them back and forth to these activities.  Although we have plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreational activities, and we do have organized soccer and baseball, our population is not sufficient to support a broad range of recreational, cultural and other activities.  For this you have to go to the other side of the river.

Economic Viability of the Development

The community has serious concerns about the economic viability of this project given that two much smaller subdivisions on the Peninsula also with deeded water access have not sold many lots other than the few lots directly on the water.  And these subdivisions have much closer and more easily accessible waterfront than Kingston Cliffs will.

Negative Financial Impact on Pre-Existing Businesses

There are two pre-existing businesses in the community who will experience negative financial impacts should this development move forward.  Both businesses are located within very close proximity of the proposed Kingston Cliffs Subdivision. 

Clifton Royal Cottages rents out cottages year round and people come to the cottages to experience the peace and quiet and natural beauty of the Kingston Peninsula.  The noise of blasting, rock crushing and the general construction noise associated with building roads and homes over the five year phased in approach of this development is likely to result in a significant decrease in occupancy rates for the business during the construction and building phases.  The damage done to the Clifton Royal Cottages' reputation for peace and tranquility during the construction phase could continue to impact the business for many years beyond the construction phase.. 

Clifton Royal Alpacas breeds alpacas and sells their fleece. Alpacas are very sensitive animals and the high noise levels during rock blasting or other construction projects can have a very negative impact on them.  The stress to the animals caused by loud noises can cause tenderness or weakening of the alpaca fibre, and tender fleece cannot generally withstand the rigours of processing into yarn, thereby diminishing its value. It has also been well documented by camelid experts Dr. Norm Evans and Dr. David Anderson that stress can also induce abortions, premature births, stomach alcers and choke in alpacas.  The five year phased in construction approach will likely result in a devaluation of the alpaca fleece and costly health problems over a five year period.  To a business whose success depends to a large degree on new alpacas being born, the potential for an increased number of premature births and abortions over this five year period could have a significant negative impact on the business.

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